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How a Third-Generation Biobanking System Works

One product that can solve a key sample quality issue is BiOS, a new, third-generation biobanking system from Hamilton Storage Technologies

Hamilton Storage Technologies

Problem: A high percentage of biological samples are stored in first- and second-generation biobanks that may affect sample integrity. Even if initial sample quality is high, certain storage and handling techniques degrade quality over the long term1, putting these samples at risk for degradation before they are used in downstream assays.

Earlier biobanks typically cobbled together sample storage systems in chest freezers or liquid nitrogen tanks, and used liquid handling and library information management systems (LIMS) from different manufacturers2.

A door opened on a manual freezer for even a short period can result in a significant temperature rise. In figure 1, data gathered by Hamilton Storage Technologies shows that the temperature of samples taken from -80ºC storage to ambient conditions increases at an average of 21.5ºC per minute. Holding a manual freezer door open for more than one minute can raise the temperature of samples to above -60ºC, dependent on their location in the freezer and the tube type. The tubes used in this study were 300 uL REMP tubes with 40 uL Fisher 10X TBS PH 7.4 buffer solution. This can happen countless times over the lifetime of a sample stored and retrieved manually. Accumulated temperature rises above this level are believed to damage the integrity of many types of biospecimens3.

Introducing variability and inconsistency to sample storage can add unknowns into downstream assays, reducing sample quality.

Figure 1: Tube warm-up rates over time: The samples are 300 uL tubes with 40 uL 10X pH 7.4 buffer solution.

Solution: One product that can solve this sample quality issue is BiOS, a new, third-generation biobanking system from Hamilton Storage Technologies. The BiOS system can store, retrieve, and manipulate samples at ultra-low temperatures (-85ºC)5

Hamilton says BiOS is the only biobanking product that enables large-scale ultra-low temperature sample storage and integrated liquid handling from the same manufacturer.

In this third-generation system, researchers do not open freezer doors. Using the BiOS system, they place a sample tube in a hatch and a robotic arm stores it in a unique interior cell. Tubes have 1-D or 2-D barcodes for tracking samples with the LIMS software and recording each sample's location. The system enables researchers to store and retrieve samples precisely, and it supports the FDA's 21 CFR Part 11 regulations.

When a researcher wants to retrieve a sample, they use the software to send their request to the automated biobank, and the robotic arm retrieves the sample. The arm deposits the sample in a delivery hatch and an email is sent when it is ready. The -80°C freezer also records the entire temperature trail of each individual sample and how many times each sample is removed from frozen storage5.

This automated system reduces retrieval time, preserves chain of custody, and eliminates sample exposure to potentially harmful temperatures.

Three levels of redundant refrigerator systems make this system very reliable. An automatic defrost system keeps samples ultra-cold while removing frost. If the system ever needs to be serviced, a technician has easy access to the refrigeration compartments for quick and efficient servicing. In addition, all automation and sensor equipment of robotic components is located outside the ultra-cold environment, so instrument servicing does not compromise the temperature of the samples.

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